How to Dispose of LED Light Bulbs?

How to Dispose of LED Light Bulbs?

September 15, 2020

We should all be conscious of our waste, especially when it comes to chemicals. Many people don’t know how to dispose of things like light bulbs because of the materials and chemicals that they contain. This is especially true when it comes to LED light bulbs that are taking over more of the market every year because they seemingly last forever! However, when they do eventually burn out, what do you do with them? 

How Do LED Light Bulbs Differ From Other Types of Bulbs?

If you aren’t already using LED light bulbs – you’re definitely missing out. Odds are that you’ve never actually researched light bulbs before and have just randomly bought the first one on the shelf at the store. Clearly, this is the wrong approach that will leave you purchasing cheap bulbs that won’t last and aren’t energy efficient. 

The most commonly used light bulbs are incandescent bulbs. They are super popular because they are cheap and are probably what you have all over your home right now! They are made with a tungsten filament surrounded by a vacuum of nitrogen gas. So even though incandescent bulbs are cheap and will definitely get the job done when it comes to lighting, they aren’t very long-lasting and contribute a lot to environmental waste since they only last for 700 to 1,000 hours. In fact, they are so energy-inefficient that the state of California has banned incandescent light bulbs in order to promote energy efficiency in the country’s most populous state. They say that you get what you pay for, and that’s definitely true when it comes to incandescent bulbs.

Next, we have halogen light bulbs. Halogen light bulbs are very similar to incandescent bulbs except for the fact that they contain a small amount of halogen gas within the vacuum. This gas reacts differently with the tungsten filament which makes the bulb give off more light and more heat. This minor design difference also makes them more efficient than incandescent bulbs with an average lifespan of 3,600 hours.

After halogen, we have compact fluorescent or CFL bulbs. Instead of using a lot of heat in order to provide light, CFL bulbs were made to be more efficient than incandescent and halogen bulbs thanks to the use of phosphorous within the bulb. This mechanism takes time to light up, which is why CFL lights are dim when you initially turn them on. If your light bulb has a spiral or curly shape, then it’s probably a CFL. CFLs have an average lifespan of 8,000 hours – making them much more efficient than incandescent and halogens.

Finally, we have light-emitting diode bulbs or LED bulbs. LED bulbs are clearly the winner here because they are extremely energy efficient thanks to the use of a semiconductor. They don’t even need to warm up! They boast an extremely long lifespan of at least 25,000 hours and can cut energy use by up to 75%. Despite a higher initial price tag, they last long enough and save enough energy to pay for themselves in no time.

Can You Throw Away LED Light Bulbs?

Even though LED bulbs do last for a very long time, they don’t last forever! So if you are looking for an easy way to dispose of your old LED light bulbs, you’re probably wondering whether or not you can just throw them away in the trash along with all your other garbage. Yes, throwing away your LED light bulbs is perfectly safe since these bulbs do not contain mercury or any other potentially harmful chemicals that would be dangerous in a landfill. That being said, you may want to wrap or seal the bulb before you just throw it in the trash to make sure that it doesn’t break and become sharp or hazardous before it reaches the landfill.  

Can You Recycle LED Light Bulbs?

On the other hand, if you are environmentally conscious, you might wonder if you’re able to recycle LED light bulbs instead of just throwing them away. The short answer is that you can, although the process of recycling your old LED bulbs might be a little more involved than your regular recycling process. This is because many local recycling centers won’t accept LED light bulbs despite the fact that they contain a lot of recyclable materials because they aren’t able to properly process them. It’s always a good idea to contact your local recycling center to see if they will accept your LED bulbs. However, if they will not accept your LED bulbs, there are a few other options that you can explore if you are really dedicated to reducing your waste and overall carbon footprint.

Another option is to find a specialized recycling facility in your area that will accept LED bulbs. You might have to travel a bit farther than just down the road, so you might want to wait to make the trip until you have more than just one bulb to recycle. That way, you aren’t canceling out the good of recycling with the gas and emissions from driving your car! However, if you aren’t able to find a specialized recycling facility near you, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on recycling your bulbs! In fact, you might be able to just take them to your local Home Depot if they are Christmas lights or use a mail-in service like HolidayLEDs.com. There are additional mail-in recycling services available for other types of LED bulbs. Some of these services require you to pay for shipping yourself while others will send you a prepaid box for you to seal and send in your LED bulbs for proper recycling. Overall, recycling your LED bulbs is clearly a great option although it might take a little bit more time and effort than simply throwing them in the garbage and forgetting about them.  

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that LED light bulbs can be safely thrown away but they can also be recycled! Recycling LED bulbs is a great way to do your part to reduce waste, save energy, and hopefully save the planet!

 

Sources:

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/the-conversation/sd-california-phases-out-incandescent-light-bulb-starting-jan-1-2018-20171221-htmlstory.html

https://www.clf.org/blog/all-landfills-leak-and-our-health-and-environment-pay-the-toxic-price/

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics